You have plenty of childhood memories of coming home from school on a crisp, fall afternoon and being greeted by the smell of cinnamon and other spices. Perhaps it was a warm pie or a pot of fresh applesauce that your mom had waiting for you. When autumn rolls around, and you start your own baking marathon, your dog is probably lounging near the kitchen. If the smell of the cinnamon seems to intrigue your pup, don’t start doling out cinnamon-filled recipes just yet.
Is Cinnamon Safe for Dogs?
Cinnamon is safe for your dog as long as it isn’t given in excess, but that doesn’t mean that your dog actually needs cinnamon in their diet. There’s a huge difference between “safe” and “necessary”.
Studies have shown that cinnamon is good for humans in a couple of ways. Research has shown that just a half of a teaspoon can regulate blood sugar and increase insulin resistance, making it beneficial to people at risk for diabetes. There isn’t any definitive proof on how cinnamon affects your dog, but some vets say that cinnamon won’t harm an overweight dog who’s at risk for diabetes. If your dog is at high risk for diabetes, adding a small amount of cinnamon every once in a while to their low-glycemic food could help reduce the risk of diabetes.
Other studies have said that cinnamon has antifungal properties. It’s been shown to fight the fungus that causes yeast infections, Candida albicans. Dogs with floppy ears, lots of wrinkles, or a “smashed” face (brachiocephalic dogs like bulldogs) are prone to yeast infections in their ears and in the creases on their faces. Research says that yeast that is resistant to medical treatment probably isn’t resistant to the power of cinnamon.
If your dog is prone to ear infections, that doesn’t mean you should be putting cinnamon down their ears, and you definitely shouldn’t apply cinnamon directly to the skin. When you’re battling recurrent yeast infections, you should discuss other treatment options with your veterinarian.
If you drop cinnamon on the floor, keep your dog out of it. The spice is a very fine powder, and it will irritate the lungs if it’s inhaled and lead to bronchospasms. If your dog gets into cinnamon for some reason, you should head to your vet so they can listen to your dog’s lungs and keep them for observation.
The Importance of Moderation with Cinnamon and Dogs
Cassia cinnamon is the most commonly purchased type of cinnamon. It’s dark in color and has something called coumarin in it. At high levels, coumarin will damage the liver. Since cinnamon has a mild anti-coagulating effect on the blood, which reduces the blood’s clotting properties, high amounts can lead to bleeding problems in dogs on blood-thinning medication.
Cinnamon also comes as an essential oil. The oil is extremely potent and can have serious health effects for your dog. These can include low blood sugar, vomiting, diarrhea, and even changes in the heart rate. If your dog has had access to the essential oil form, they should see your veterinarian immediately.
Most of the cinnamon-based recipes you cook shouldn’t be given to dogs. A pumpkin pie, for example, contains a crust with some kind of fat in it. An apple pie is loaded with butter and sugar, both of which are bad for dogs.
If there’s ever a question of your dog getting into any form of cinnamon, you should always call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline to see if they need medical care. There’s really no instance in which your dog needs cinnamon, so it’s probably best to just not give it to your dog at all. Luckily, if they do eat cinnamon, it probably won’t cause any issues.